Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Generation UCAN Review

I'll preface this post by saying that I hardly ever review products on my blog. Companies do not send me free products to review and I only write about products that I'm passionate about, like the Mizuno Elixir replacement. My blog is mainly focused on the journey to achieving my running goals, so I only review products that I believe will help me get there. I'm pleased to present this Generation UCAN review!
Generation UCAN prize pack

Last July, the McMillan Running company named me their athlete of the month. Along with this honor came a prize pack full of Generation UCAN products. I had known for awhile that Coach Greg McMillan believed strongly in UCAN for fueling, so I was looking forward to trying it out. However, I was in the midst of half marathon training, and my long runs weren't long enough to require fuel. That said, I continued to use gels during my races.

During the Columbus Half Marathon last fall, I took two Honey Stinger gels, as was custom for me. At the finish line, I ended up vomiting. It was not pretty! I had been a victim of stomach distress during races in the past, but I had never vomited.

Why I tried UCAN: Stomach Distress
Aside from the fact that I had a prize package of UCAN and Greg McMillan endorsed it, I had also heard that the product was easier to digest than gels. I had been faithful to Honey Stinger for years because it was the only gel my stomach could tolerate-- but it couldn't always tolerate it. The Columbus Half Marathon is a good example of that, as is the Columbus full marathon from 2014, when I simply wasn't able to get the gel down at mile 16. As a result, I ran the last ten miles of that race with no fuel. The same thing had happened to me at the B & A Trail marathon back in 2013.

During training runs, stomach distress had also been an issue. There was about a 1-in-3 chance that I would end up in a bathroom during a long run because of an upset stomach. Not fun!

So, once I started training for the Boston Marathon, I thought I would give Generation UCAN a shot. Another benefit of the product is that you don't need to fuel as often with it. One serving of UCAN lasts for up to two hours! For long runs of 16 miles or less, I would simply have one serving of UCAN SuperStarch about 30 minutes before the run, and I would have enough energy to get through the run. I also used it before some of my weekday morning workouts if they were long, and I found that I was energized and able to execute the workouts according to plan. And, as advertised, I never once had stomach distress with the product.

Why I stayed with UCAN: Convenience
One of the hardest parts about running a long race is having to fuel. When it's below 40 degrees, my hands go completely numb so taking a gel becomes extremely challenging. Another part of the challenge is that you have to take gels, like Honey Stinger, with water. So not only do you have to open the gel and get it into your mouth, you also have to have enough water at the exact time. Who needs that when you are running at 100% effort?!

In March of this year, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon. For breakfast, I had my standard bagel with peanut butter two hours beforehand. 30 minutes before the start, I had a packet of UCAN SuperStarch mixed with water. I consumed zero calories during the race, and not needing to take a gel freed my hands from carrying a water bottle. I ended up setting a PR by over a minute and a half, running a 1:33:36! I loved not having to worry about fueling mid-race or carrying a bottle.

As my long runs for Boston increased to over 16 miles, I started to take UCAN on the go. I would still take a serving 30 minutes beforehand, and then about 80-85 minutes into the run, I would take a UCAN gel. This video shows I made the gel:


Given that the UCAN was far more convenient then gels, and that it didn't cause me stomach distress it was a no-brainer to make the switch. But there was another key benefit that I learned about after I had been training with the product for a few months: UCAN helps train your body to burn more fat.

Major Perk: Burn more fat
I used to wonder if taking so many gels on training runs was a bad thing. After all, isn't the point of a long run to teach your body to burn fat as fuel, not all the sugar you give it? I've heard of some runners doing long runs without any fuel at all, but I know that it can be rough to recover from those, making your future workouts suffer.

With traditional gels, the calories are released into your system all at once, overwhelming your body with an abundance of glucose to use. With Generation UCAN, the energy is released gradually, over time. This is why it lasts longer. With this gradual release, your body uses some glycogen as fuel, and also some fat.

When I ran the Boston Marathon, I consumed a full packet of UCAN beforehand, a full packet gel at mile 10, and then I had some honey stinger chews to get me through the last 4 miles. I could have made another UCAN gel, but I didn't want to carry two of them, and having a few chews at the end didn't require me to carry water, and didn't cause stomach distress. I slowed down significantly during that race, but I attribute that to the heat-- not my fueling strategy. This exact fueling strategy was perfect for a 24-mile training run in cooler weather two weeks before Boston.

Meb and me!
UCAN Ambassador
I received an email from Generation UCAN last March asking for ambassadors in the local area. I did not hesitate to volunteer. Since I'm already pretty active on social media and I love going to running events, I figured I might as well help promote a company I believe in. I already had the opportunity to represent UCAN at an event in Arlington last March, where I met Meb! Yes, Meb uses UCAN too. Once again, UCAN did not pay me to write this blog or even ask me to do it. It just works so well that I wanted to share my success with it.

UCAN also offers recovery drinks, snack bars, and a hydration product. The "UCAN Hydrate" is a powder you simply put in water that turns plain ol' water into electrolyte enhanced water. I use this when it's warm out, and just re-stocked for the summer.

In terms of flavors, my favorite flavor of the SuperStarch is lemonade, followed by blueberry pomegranate. I do not care for the orange or chocolate flavors.

I now drink UCAN SuperStarch 30 minutes prior to every race I run, regardless of the distance. And I've had plenty of energy during my past few races with no stomach distress.

UCAN Discount
If you want a 10% discount code for the UCAN website, contact me on Twitter and I will send you a direct message with the code.

I hope you enjoyed this Generation UCAN review!

20 comments:

  1. Very cool that you met Meb!!!!! Thanks for the review. I have been intrigued by this but don't have a ton of stomach discomfort with traditional gels. That said, I like that it lasts for 2 hour workout which is perfect for the type of training I am doing right now.

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    1. I would say that packet lasts 2 hours, but one scoop probably does not. A packet = 1.5 scoops. I use the packets because they're more convenient to take to races.

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    2. Thanks for the code! I finally ordered some of the packets today!

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  2. I've read a few reviews of this product, mostly from people who weren't paid or ambassadors, just that they liked it. To me, that says a lot that you reviewed it even though you're not getting free products or kickbacks (I guess you get the same 10% off but I don't consider that a kickback really). I don't like reading blogs with tons of sponsored posts and product shilling, so thanks for not doing that :).

    Anyway- it sounds like this is really working for you! I wish I could buy some locally to try but I may have to order online or something, like one of the sample packs. I plan to train for Charleston 26.2 in January and obviously that needs a fueling strategy (no pop tart 1 hour before the start and that's it, like i do in a half). So, thanks for the review.

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    1. I'm totally with you-- I get really frustrated when a blogger starts posting tons of reviews and we don't get to hear as much about his/her training. I definitely do not want my blog to go that route. I suggest getting the sample envelopes. Send me a message on FB if you want the code.

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  3. So funny that you and I both wrote about GI stuff and the fuel that has been a game changer for us! Glad to hear that you've had such great luck with UCAN!

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    1. Yes! Fueling is such a key component of training and racing!

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  4. I have had the same problems. My coach introduced me to UCAN, and it has worked well for me so far. No issues! WOOT!

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  5. I might have to give Gen UCAN another try. I was not a fan when I tried it 3 years ago but it works so well for so many me and my disaster of a GI system may need to test it out.

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    1. I'll admit that the taste is just so-so. But I don't take it for the taste-- I take it for all the other benefits!

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  6. You mention that before the Boston Marathon you had a packet of UCAN before the race. No bagel? I always get nervous with not eating enough prior to a run.

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    1. I did have a bagel. I had a bagel with peanut butter on the bus ride, exactly 2 hours before the race started. I had a banana shortly after waking up at around 6:00am, too. The UCAN was in addition to all of this. I don't see UCAN as replacing my pre-race fuel, but rather replacing the fuel that I would use during the race.

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    2. Oh good, thanks for clarifying. :-)

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  7. I'm always looking for different and new ways to get in my workout and race nutrition. Thanks for sharing your review!

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  8. Hi Elizabeth. I've tried the products and taken you up on the offer of a 10% coupon code on twitter and you haven't responded. Pleeeaaseeeeee!!!!! Thank you. @PhilyRedd

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  9. Hi Elizabeth!! Love your review. I keep going back and forth. So, If I am training for a marathon, I serving before and one serving during should be enough fuel? In addition to some chews near the end? Do you drink water during the race? I am preparing for my first marathon on March 2017 and I know I must get the fueling right before then!
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Kae,
      Yes, this is correct. One envelope before (which is actually 1.5 servings if you are using a scooper from a bin). One envelope about 80-90 minutes into the run. And if your long run goes longer than 2:45, then it would be good to take some chews or something just to get through that last bit. I drink water during the race. If it's cold, then I drink it every 20 minutes (I carry a bottle). If it's warm, then I drink every 10 minutes.

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  10. Hi Elizabeth great review and video! I have just bought the same bags and the tutorial was very useful. I have a Half Marathon coming up at the end of January, if I take 1.5 scoops 30 minutes before the start do you think it is enough to get me to the end without extra fueling? I should finish in around 1 hour 55. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Carmen, that's a tough question because 1:55 is right on the borderline! I recommend you have whatever breakfast you'd normally have 2.5 hours before race start, drink the UCAN 30 minutes before the start, and then have some chews handy to take at mile 9 to get you through those last four miles. I don't think you will need very many, but I would recommend Honey Stinger chews, and having like 4-5 of them. They are easy on the stomach, and you don't need to have them at the exact same time as water, so it gives you some flexibility. I don't think you'd need to make a full UCAN gel if you plan to run 1:55. But if you were running for 2:00+ then I would recommend that. I'm not a nutritionist, but this is what I recommend based on my experience!

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